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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Halloween (2007) remake review

Overall verdict: 7/10

The Good: Excellent acting, full character development, psychological insight, satisfying kills (the victims deserved it), does not "reinvent the wheel"

The Bad: not scary, might be too much gore and sex, lacks the tension filled mood of the original

Current Availability Status:
-discount priced DVDs in most Singapore DVD stores.
-Unrated Directors cut available in limited supply from HMV singapore

Remaking the much adored classic horror film "Halloween" is no easy task. A devoted fanbase who have been let down by a series of increasingly disappointing sequels, guard their beloved franchise like rabid dogs. Any attempt to tamper with the original story of Laurie Strode and the mysterious killer named Michael Myers would be met with immediate negative reaction. Heavy Metal Musician-turned-film director, Rob Zombie, knows this well. As a result, he does not even both rehashing Lauri Strode's horrific encounters with a killer. In this remake, Michael Myers himself is the focus of the story as his tragic origins are traced right from his tortured childhood, thus giving birth to the souless evil that has become a famous horror icon.

The movie can be essentially be split into to distinct parts: Myer's childhood and incarceration at Smith's grove Sanitarium right up to his escape years later, and then the second part would be his return to Haddonfield to carry out his grizzly murders; this being a loose recreation of the original classic movie only with the focus on the killer instead of the victims.

Growing up in the town of Haddonfield, young Michael Myers is bullied at school, teased by his sister and continually insulted by his stripper mother's boyfriend, Ronnie. Though he tries to hold it all in, he is Pushed to the brink. One day he snaps; His psychopathic tendencies finally manifest resulting first in the grizzly murder of the school bully and then his sister, her sex partner and Ronnie on Halloween night. Michael is then placed under the care of Dr Samuel Loomis who tries unsuccessfully to "cure" the boy and then makes a career out of him by writing books based on Michael Myers' deteriorating psychological condition. Following the suicide of his mother, Michael grows ever more distant and remains in Smith's Grove for the next fifteen years until he escapes by murdering the employees as one of them were attempting to rape a fellow patient.

It is in this first segment where we get to see how the director, Rob Zombie, manages to craft a world as seen through the eyes of a killer. Hate drove Michael to kill and similarly every single character, with the exception of Dr Loomis and Michael's mother, is portrayed in such a way that you just MUST hate them as much as Michael did. The girls are complete bitches, the guys are foul mouthed retards, every single character is just so easy to dislike; it is a skewed world that Michael Myers sees and one of the reasons why he has no qualms about killing everyone who inhabits it. Aside from Michael, Dr Loomis is also given a much better character development here than in the original. He is a more sympathetic character who genuinely wants to help Michael Myers and for a while, the two actually form some sort of bond. Much better than the obsessively driven Loomis of the original who was more like a crazy Captain Ahab after Moby Dick.

The second part involves Michael returning to Haddonfield and going on a bloody rampage while searching for his long lost sister. This part is the "horror story" remake proper and depending on how you look at it, might seem very disappointing. For one thing, it is not scary at all; you'd know it every time Michael is about to kill someone so that takes away a lot of tension. But then again, seeing as how this movie is from the killer's point of view, Michael Myers is not scared when he kills and thus neither should the audience be.

On the technical side, Most of the cast do a decent job of acting their parts. Special mention goes to Malcolm McDowell as Dr Loomis who does an incredible job of fleshing out his character's inner torment; he feels responsible for Michael's actions but at the same time cannot bring himself to kill a man that he pities more than hates. None of the supporting cast are every fully explored though, with only Michael Myers and Dr Loomis getting the most character development; perhaps again a side effect of focusing the movie on Michael. Rob Zombie does fall back on quick cuts, cheap shocks, and other typical camera tricks of horror movies but it does not take away from the enjoyment of the film. There is also a good amount of gore and nudity here to satisfy the casual slasher movie fan too.

Not everyone will be happy when a horror movie not just humanizes its main "monster" but fails to be scary. But other would love the fresh new direction that the remake decided to go which adds a whole new dimension to the slasher film killer stereotype. Though not entirely perfect, Halloween 2007 is a lousy horror show but an excellent psychological drama that delves into the mind of a killer, effectively reminding us that behind every face of evil, there was once an innocent child.

*****************************Review End******************

Go For it: if you are open to an actual reinterpretation of a classic horror icon that adds a new level of depth
Avoid it: if you expect something as creepy or scary as the classic that inspired this remake

Entertainment: B
Story: C+
Acting: B+
Characters: A-
Replay value: B-
"Brains": B-

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